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Premium VOD: Really? Who’s Gonna Do That?

Movie Marquee

The news is out that Hollywood wants to let you pay for a new service – watching movies 60 days after release in the comfort of your own home with a discomfort to your wallet of $30 (see coverage by Variety, All Things D,  GigaOm and The Guardian).

Colour me sceptical.

Yes, it would be perfect for families who can save the hassle of schlepping the kids to the theatre, and then fighting over how much over-priced popcorn and sugar-products will be bought. That is a clear use case.  And maybe it would be worth it if you are gathering friends together for the occaission.

But I think there is a lot that speaks against it.

For one, that price is too high. It is a huge premium for something that will be out on DVD (or its digital equivalent) very soon after. And as one podcaster said, “For $30, I want to own it.”

I think it will take really compelling viewing to get people to pony up that kind of money.  You’ve just chosen not to take your money to the theatre for that Adam Sandler flick.  Are you really going to plunk down $30 to see it at home? Doubt it.

Exhibitors will, of course, hate it. We have seen over and over how they scream when anything encroaches on their territory.  While I’m all for day-and-date release  across all media and all platforms, exhibitors have resisted any further erosion of their windows. We saw that with the stink raised in the UK over Alice in Wonderland last year.

I also think there is a problem with the 60-day period.  The vast majority of movies are well and truly gone from the theatres in the first week or two.  I don’t know how much buzz will still be around six or seven weeks on.  60 days seems too long to me to capture any sort of theatrical release enthusiasm.  14 days? Yes. 30 days? Maybe.  60? I don’t think so.

Distribution is certainly changing. And we can say good for them for trying something new. But I don’t see this idea making much of a dent.


Photo credit: Hitchster